Just Like You

by TechyConversant

Chapter 13 - Home

You were running. Cadenza was falling. Chrissy was weeping. Shining was training. Celestia was eating. Everyone was busy in their own way.

You book it through the halls, the pain in your chest a mere remnant of what it used to be. You grip the crystal heart tight as you press on, the edges nearly slicing your palm. Through the halls you traverse, heading for the main exit. Luckily, it being dinner time, the halls are mostly empty. Even those that see you aren't in the know to your situation, so they are simply as startled as they would be by any bipedal naked monkey dashing through the halls would make them. As you escape out the front doors, the two guards standing by attempt to greet you, but you don't stop for pleasantries. Your destination is clear. One of the armored patrol shrugs to the other.

"Glad to see he's up and at 'em." They aren't the brightest at times.

You rush through the streets of Canterlot. The moment you feel yourself becoming short of breath, the crystal heart in your hand gives you your second wind. Not literally, of course. It's not magic. But you'll be damned if something as mundane as exhaustion or your body's limitations will stop you. The buildings rushed by you in a blur as you didn't dare stop, knowing that it would only be a matter of time until you'd be searched for.

Having reached the outskirts of the city, the pressing weight of possible capture is superseded by the need to catch your breath. You stop, hands on your knees, almost ready to collapse. Where...where now? You have no clue where Chrissy would be, should she be alive. Maybe you read Cadenza wrong. Maybe she isn't...no. No, she is. You can't doubt yourself now. Standing upright once more, you scan around. Blindly running forward is always an option, but you'd probably want to stay off the main road down the mountain. Probably not the most hidden spot. Idly, you look down at the crystal in your palm. It comes to you. The cave!

Chrissy hid there for who knows how long, surely it can handle one more night of occupancy. If Cadance hadn't shown you how to get back to the castle, it would be a nightmare trying to find it. Behind a tree and some bushes, past a drop that looks far steeper than it actually is, and down a winding path that leads into the caves...and there it was. A faint glow. The cavern. Approaching it, you step a bit inside...and with a heavy heart, try your luck.


Your voice echoes through the chamber, the reverberating sound your only response. You sigh, which also becomes echoed. The cavern's acoustics are exquisite, for sure. Entering, you feel a rush of memory. It was only a day ago. She stood here, poured her heart out, and gave you a crystal one to compensate. Gripping your personal treasure, you head deep in, much deeper than you had gone before. When suddenly, you hear it. A faint buzzing, like the flapping of insect's wings. The kind you heard moments before your fateful descent.

Excitement rushes over you, and your footsteps echo through the cavern as you rush to the back.

"Chrissy! Chrissy, I'm okay!" You call out. Each step through the cave, new crystal pattern passing you by, until suddenly there's the end of the cavern. "Chri-"

The buzzing noise emanated from a small bag on the ground. The sack moved slightly, little orbs of color with insect wings seen messing with it's contents. You sigh internally. It wouldn't be that easy, of course it wouldn't. Stepping over to the sack, you crouch, opening it up. A few of those odd flies zip and dart out of the bag, startled by the intrusion. As they hover near, you swat your hand at them. "Shoo fly, don't bother me." You say. The small group of flies departs...though you could SWEAR one of them stuck its tongue out at your before they did.

The sack smelled of apples, or the remnants of them. Now it's a pile of bruised cores. No doubt the flies enjoyed them. Almost as much as you would have, the eaten food a stark reminder that you, in fact, skipped out on a delicious meal. Putting the bruised, fly-devoured cores to the side, you spot it. A whole apple! Jackpot. You reach in to grab it, pulling out the favored fruit. Immediately digging your teeth in, you feel the was of flavor cover your tongue. Just like the kind back at the labyrinth. As you munch away, you can't help but observe your surroundings. The crystals of the cavern are a beautiful sight to behold. Jagged formations, tiny divots. One on the wall beside you is even shaped like a heart. Taking a closer look, you run a finger along it's grooves. Smooth, as if it was cut. Holding up your little treasure, you smile. She really did a bang-up job on it. Picture perfect.

Before long, you've finished your meal. It ended far too quickly for your liking. You prepare to toss it in the sack with the other cores, until something catches your eye. The full apple covered something up at the bottom of a bag. You turn the sack over, the apple cores spilling to the cavern floor. Along with a folded piece of parchment floating down, landing atop the pile. Grabbing it, letting the freshly eaten apple's remnants join it's brethren, you unfold it.

Oh look, it's Canterlot. At least, a decent enough depiction of it. A castle on a cliffside is pretty indistinguishable. There was even a plot out of the town, and the royal gardens. Not too far from it, a cave with some jagged spikes. It only takes a moment to process. This is a makeshift map! Chrissy's been here a long time, this must be how she remembered how to get here in the beginning. But 'here' isn't the only marker on the map. Cadenza's house was clear. How did you know it was Cadenza's? Well, one, the positioning on the map. Secondly, of course, was the way 'bitch' is the only word near that location. Must have picked up some lingo from the locals.

But something else peaked your interest. Far below the map of town, a line. A line that crossed a massive expanse. Not just what it surely represented, but a large gap on the map itself. While one might think it's just not detailed, there's something that can be easily akin to that emptiness. The wastelands, behind the mountain. Constant storms, dust, sand, harsh wildlife. Even more forsaken than the fabled Everfree Forest, this plot of land is shunned from the eyes of Canterlot, and Celestia herself. Only an idiot would think to cross them.

However, at the end of the line, at the very bottom of the page, lies the reason you'll be more than willing to be known as an idiot.



Chrysalis arrived at the entrance to the hive. She could feel it. The soft buzzing beneath the ground, of her kin thriving. Her instincts guided her properly, until she found the dark cavern entrance where they resided. The chitinous guards buzzed with the arrival of their princess. Step by step she continued, her holed hooves familiarizing themselves with what she calls home. It's been quite a while, nearly two years, since she walked this hive. If only her return were more joyous, not that the pathetic drones would care otherwise.

She made it to the throne room, the doors opening, heralding her entrance.

"My beautiful daughter..." Her mother's wings buzzed as she floated to her returned daughter.

"Hello mother..." She said solemnly. Well, solemn isn't the right word. That would imply a hint of emotion. Chrysalis' words were simply empty.

"Welcome home..." She knelt down to approach her daughter's height, and began an embrace. It felt warm, if only for a moment, caused by the glowing of the Queen's horn.

"I...I'm sorry..." Was all the little one could speak. She knew she would have to apologize. Her returns, no matter how infrequent, were never greeted by true affection from her mother. Only expectations.

"...not...a drop..." The Queen pulled back, glaring down at her daughter. "Pathetic waste. Why send you to Canterlot at all if this is how you repay me?"

"M-mother, I-" Her sentence was met with a silencing hoof. Not the gentle, pressed to your lip kind. The kind that sends the princess tumbling into the floor.

"You might as well have not returned." She spoke coldly, turning away from the failure. Chrysalis picked herself up off the floor. She was right, after all. Chrissy knew she was a failure. There was no sobbing, no tears. She spent them all on Anon. Only deep seated self hatred remained, and it was all she felt she deserved.

"C..Celestia..." Chrissy squeaked out. The Queen barely turned.

"What of her?"

"She...she captured me...if any more changelings are found..." Chrissy gulps, recalling that moment. The burning glare, the powerful threat. "...our empty husks won't be as blackened as she chars she makes of them..."

The Queen recoiled slightly. Celestia is not a force to be trifled with. Without responding to her offspring, she, accompanied by drones, left the throne room. Chrysalis stood there, wallowing in her own failure, her face desperately wanting to cry, but her heart no longer in it. The Queen stepped through the caverns, a look of disgust on her face. "Pathetic. How hard is it to collect love? Is she really that horrible? Can no one love such a failure..." She rambled, her drones idly nodding and agree with whatever drivel spilled from her lips. She stormed into her chambers, the drones staying behind, knowing better than to interfere.

The king lay in his bed. He looks weak, his chitin a faded grey, eyes sunken. As his beloved enters the room, he only turns slightly. He can barely speak. "Our daughter brought us a message. Celestia plans to exterminate our kind." The king is elated at the return of his daughter, but can hardly show it, only blinking. "Of course, my king, we must take action. Any good ruler would. If we don't find a source of love soon..." She steps to the bed, leaning down to him. "We'll have to take it by force."

The weak noises the husk known as the king made were in protest to her insane words. Changelings are feeble creatures. They hide, they disguise, they steal. The Queen is mad if she thinks to challenge the might of Celestia.

"I'm glad you agree, my king~!" The Queen chides happily, pressing her horn against his. "You'd do anything for whom you love..."

As a pale green glow escapes the king's horn, no more sounds of protest could be heard. He had loved the queen once. He loved his hive nearly as much. But when it became desperate, he would do anything for his queen. But she always took more. Her chitin was perfect, her eyes were vibrant, her smile devious.

Her love, a lie.

The Queen exited her chambers, motioning to her drone. "Dispose of him." The drones nodded, in complete obedience to the monarch. Plans swirled around in her head. The emotions that her colony, the precious colony she cared for so dearly, needed to thrive...were running thin. Her drones were hungry. If only love wasn't so hard to acquire.

Perhaps she's thinking of it all wrong. The love comes from those beings...those beings simply need to be here. Surely Celestia wouldn't miss a few ponies here and there, especially if they were replaced properly. Her fanged grin grew as the gears fell into place. Sustainable emotion. Perfect.

Chrysalis, the young princess of the dying colony, sat in her chambers. The death of her beloved on her holed hooves. Where once her heart thought it could not cry, it's face decided to prove it wrong. Her coos and sobs echoed softly through the caverns, as the buzzing of wings indicated plans being set into motion.